“A Conversation”: The X-Files, ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’
There have been several profoundly memorable episodes over The X-Files’ eleven seasons, but perhaps none more grotesquely horrific than “Home,” the second episode of Season 4. If the title doesn’t ring any bells, no doubt mentioning “the Peacock family” will.
The horrors on display in “Nothing Lasts Forever” seem somewhat calculated to evoke the same feelings of revulsion and fascination that “Home” did back in the day. Instead of mutant inbreeding, however, the story line of this episode tackles vanity, cannibalism, and religious vengeance. And something else that’s possibly even more shocking, but we’ll get to that later on.
While at first the episode feels rather convoluted, it does get easier to parse upon a second viewing. Essentially, it concerns an underground ring of organ thieves. These back alley doctors are looking for eternal youth. There’s a cult of young people living (and shagging each other) in the decrepit fourth-floor apartment of a certain Barbara Beaumont who are looking for the same thing.
The fictional Beaumont was a popular actress in the late 1960s, and although she’s now 85 years old, she doesn’t look a day over 33. That’s all thanks to her steady diet of human organs and blood. These are procured for her by her physician husband, Randolph Luvenis, who has surgically attached himself to one of the cult’s young members and is hoping to eventually reverse the aging process. He calls this procedure “heterochronic parabiosis” and believe it or not, it’s a real thing in stem cell research.
By seeking out young men and women who are either unattractive or physically deformed, Beaumont—with the help of her husband---has ensured their devotion to her cause by using the blood cure to make them beautiful. If it sounds confusing, it is, and probably worth more time than the episode’s 45 minutes can truly offer. (The episode also gives the Maureen McGovern hit “There’s Got to Be a Morning After” a creepy aura and ensures that the song will be stuck in one’s head for days.)
To complicate things further, one of the cult members is the missing sister of a particularly religious family. Juliet’s mother prays daily over a photo of her missing daughter Olivia, who has since joined the cult and become far more attractive after drinking blood and eating pancreases. As for Juliet, she steals iron fence posts from the nearby church and uses them to stab the hearts of the doctors who are assisting the cult. Her repeated refrain of “I will repay” is taken from Romans 12:19.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
Even though her parish priest tries to remind her about the “do not take revenge” part, Juliet is sick of waiting for God to fix her problems, so after dispatching a couple of doctors, she tracks down the cult, kills Beaumont and Luvenis, and rescues her sister. Again, this is a nifty premise that deserves more than the somewhat short shrift the episode offers.
In the middle of all this, Mulder and Scully are having some struggles of their own. Mulder is now at the age when he needs bifocals (excuse me, “progressives”) to read texts on his cell phone. It also means he finally notices the haircut Scully got a few episodes ago. Scully, still plagued by the loss of William, is doing a lot of praying, but admits that even she thinks a miracle is unlikely at this point.
The real meat of this part of the episode is the ongoing “are they together are not?” question with which this entire season has teased viewers, having already answered the “will they or won’t they?” question earlier on.
After the pair have solved the case, they meet up again in a church. After a short discussion of how “prayer is a conversation” Mulder tells Scully this: “Reason and faith in harmony: isn’t that why we’re so good together?” What follows feels like a reckoning, not just of The X-Files itself, but of Mulder and Scully’s relationship throughout it all. It’s worth quoting in full.
Scully: Are we together? I believed I could protect our son, and I failed. I believed that we could live together, and I fled. I gave up on that, too.
Mulder: You know how many times I envisioned a scenario when you left that basement office before I even needed glasses? You’d have your health, your dog, your sister, you’d be Kersh’s boss at the FBI, you’d be married to some brain surgeon and have a bunch of kids that you wouldn’t have to give up.
Scully: Mulder, I don’t begrudge you any of those things. It’s not what I was talking about.
Mulder:What are you talking about, Scully? Because I don’t know if any god is listening, but I am standing right here and I am listening. Right beside you. I’m all ears. That’s my choice.
Scully looks around and whispers something into Mulder’s ear that we can’t hear.
Scully: That’s not my four-year-old self looking for a miracle. That’s my leap of faith forward. And I’d like to do it together.
Mulder: I’ve always wondered how this was going to end.
First of all, when did they live together? Second, how much has Mulder grown as a person since the cocky jerk seen in “Never Again” (amongst many other times)? Third, what in hell does Scully tell him? And finally, how’s WHAT going to end? The X-Files? Mulder and Scully? We are ALL wondering the answer to that question, but we won’t get to find out until the season’s last episode. Considering that it’s possibly also the series finale, let’s hope some major questions will be answered.